18 September 2023

Floriade is back for 2023 - here's what to expect

| James Coleman
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Floriade 2023

Floriade 2023 – as spectacular as ever. Photo: James Coleman.

Australia’s biggest celebration of spring officially opened its gates to visitors in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park on 16 September.

Floriade runs until Sunday, 15 October, and the organisers are expecting great things over the next four weeks after years of lacklustre weather. And they’ve made it easier to get there.

“Floriade is recognised as Australia’s largest celebration of spring and attracts close to half a million visitors with nearly 50 per cent coming from interstate or overseas,” ACT Assistant Minister for Economic Development Tara Cheyne said at the media preview today.

“It’s with great excitement and a good deal of relief the weather forecast over the next week looks absolutely fantastic.”

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Commonwealth Park will come alive with an impressive program of entertainment featuring local and interstate performers, including themed circus performances and cabaret in the new ‘Spiegeltent’.

Roving performers and children’s favourites ‘The Gecko Gang’ and activities in Floriade’s ‘Sprout Zone’ cater for the whole family.

Then, of course, there’s the flowers – more than a million of them.

“It’s taken 12 months from planning through to construction, planting all the garden beds and taking care of them through winter,” head gardener Tim Howard said.

“We’ve tried to use interesting combinations and a lot of fragrant flowers, so I think there’s something for everyone.”

New bulbs will continue to emerge over the four weeks to keep the grounds looking fresh all the way through.

This year’s ‘Floral Wonderland’ theme is inspired by Alice in Wonderland, so be on the lookout for the Cheshire Cat sculpture, chess boards, and other nods to Lewis Carroll’s fictional work.

Once again, Floriade has spread throughout Canberra in what has become somewhat of another spring tradition. There are over 300,000 in community flower beds across the suburbs.

A ‘satellite site’ at Lanyon Homestead will give visitors to one of Canberra’s most significant heritage sites the chance to enjoy the blooms too.

Getting to and from Floriade is said to be easier than ever, too, thanks to a heavily expanded free shuttle service.

The usual route remains, running between the city and Floriade daily, and the National Triangle and Floriade on weekends (with extended services for NightFest).

But there are also new routes from Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong, Kingston and Queanbeyan on weekends, public holidays and during NightFest. And, for the first time, a ferry service will run from the Kingston Foreshore, Queen Elizabeth Terrace and Ferry Gate at Floriade.

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As you’d expect, there will be a variety of food and drinks available from local and interstate vendors and wineries, including Underground Spirits and BentSpoke Brewing.

Agostinis is also back this year, so cue an Italian-style sit-down meal or takeaway snack.

Floriade 2023 will welcome television personality and international award-winning Australian garden designer Jamie Durie as a special guest. He’ll take to Stage 88 on Sunday (17 September) from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm share his love of all things gardens, design and sustainability ahead of meet-and-greet sessions in the Spiegeltent.

After dark, NightFest will return from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm from 28 September to 1 October. Expect a colourful variety of entertainment, lighting installations and horticultural illuminations.

Music legends Vika & Linda will also light up Stage 88 on Sunday, 1 October, from 8 pm.

For the show’s final day, visitors are welcome to bring their furry friends along for ‘Dogs Day Out’. This will be followed by the ‘Great Big Bulb Dig’ on Monday, 16 October, when you’re invited to bring a garden trowel and take some pieces of Floriade home with you.

Entry to Floriade is free, and the gates are open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm tomorrow and then daily until 15 October.

To see the full program of events, or to book tickets for NightFest, visit Floriade. More information on where to park and how to use the free shuttle service is available at Getting to Floriade.

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